Nanotechnology Now Making Accurate Assessment of microRNAs Possible


Published Date : Feb 17, 2016

It is interesting how research activities aimed at the detection and treatment of deadly diseases such as a variety of cancers are progressing on the global front. With the integration of latest technological advances from the field of nanotechnology, the field of cancer detection and treatment has become even more sophisticated in the past few years.

Development of a new technology for detecting the presence of disease biomarkers have raised the hopes of making detection of cancer possible from a simple finger prick test. Researchers at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have developed a technology for detecting disease biomarkers in the form of nucleic acids. As nucleic acids are the building blocks of all living organisms, this new progress can have an impact on detection and treatment of a variety of diseases, especially a number of cancers, not only in humans but other living creatures as well.

Researchers of the technology are calling the discovery as the potential first line of noninvasive detection for the diagnosis of anything from cancer to Ebola virus. Though the technology is currently in its early stages, the researchers are hopeful that it would eventually allow performing diagnostic tests with the help of a few drops of blood from a simple finger prick.

The new technique makes use of nanotechnology for determining whether a particular target nucleic acid sequence is present within a substrate and quantify it if it is present with the help of an electronic signature.

If the sample consists the sequence the testers are looking for, it will form a double helix with a probe provided by the diagnostic technology and a clear signal about a disease can be seen. If the sequence is not present, there is no signal. Researchers behind the new technology have said that by simply counting the number of signals, one can determine how much of the target is present in the sample.

Nucleic acids have sequences of chains bases in the range of a few to some millions. The order in which these bases are found can be strongly tied to their functions, even over short distances. Thus, these sequences can be used as direct indicators of what is happening inside living cells or tissues. The study of microRNA biomarkers has been undergoing for several years but their accurate detection has been a real challenge owing to their tiny structures. With nanotechnology, the accurate detection of these structures has become possible, and so has the hopes of easier and more accurate diagnosis of diseases.